As Tri for a Cure celebrates its sixth year, organizers have seen more interest from women across the country. Of the nearly 1,300 individuals participating this year, about 191 registered with out-of-state addresses.
Registrants come from across the country. Some travel from as far as from California and Washington. Others hop state lines from Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Women migrate up the coast from Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Race organizers recognize that some may have summer homes in Maine attracting them to the event and others may originally be from Maine and live elsewhere. However, attracting women nationwide is quite the accomplishment for a race that had about 400 participants in its first year.
Meaghan Morris, 26, is one of those traveling up the coast. Morris, originally from Maine, has lived in the greater Washington, D.C., area for eight years. She doesn’t get to visit home often, but a trip to Maine during the summer is a requirement.
In 2009, her grandmother, aunt and cousins participated in Tri for a Cure. Three generations of women were coming together to swim, bike and run, and Morris wasn’t involved.
“They told me about it and I was starting to feel jealous about this three-generation thing,” she said.
The camaraderie of participating with her aunt, cousins and grandmother was appealing to Morris, but the purpose also was significant. In November 2010, Morris had yet to commit as a Tri for a Cure participant when her coworker and friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two months later that friend died and Morris’ resolve to participate grew stronger.
The fact that Morris swam competitively for 10 years through high school and part of college set her mind at ease when it came to that leg of the triathlon. She also runs regularly around greater D.C., sometimes by herself and sometimes with a running group. All told, she didn’t train too hard for the race, but she ended up placing in her age group for fastest time, along with her cousins, aunt and grandmother.
“Julie Marchese (race director) said we cleaned house that year,” said Morris.
“The race start is the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of ever. When I think about it, that is what makes me sign up,” she added. “The athletic part is important, but that’s not the main point of the day.
“It’s such a feel-good day because you see these women who have gone through chemo and gone through cancer, but they’re there. You see these women that do not look like athletes, but they’re doing the Tri because they can,” she said.
Jennifer Ginn Foy, 35, is traveling a little further than Morris to join in this year’s Tri for a Cure. Ginn Foy, originally from Maine, is coming this year from Golden, Colo., to race with her aunt, Jean Ginn Marvin.
“We motivate each other to train and we have personal motivation,” Ginn Foy said. “My father, Jean’s brother, passed away many years ago from cancer. [Tri for a Cure] is something we really enjoy doing together.”
Ginn Foy’s interest in triathlons began five years ago. Prior to her first Tri for a Cure, Ginn Foy competed in an Olympic-length triathlon and a half-ironman. While she’s enjoyed other races, Ginn Foy called Tri for a Cure an addictive experience.
“During that first race, I instantly met several women who were setting up their spots in the transition area,” she said. “Everyone was friendly, some were seasoned athletes, some were first-timers and all were part of this awesome community of women striving toward personal goals and toward a greater cause.”
Along the race course, Ginn Foy found herself pulling up alongside other competitors to cheer these women on. Likewise, other racers motivated Ginn Foy to keep up.
“I felt like I was flying during the run with all these people cheering every one of us on,” Ginn Foy said. “It was truly one of the best experiences of my life and that feeling doesn’t change from year to year.”
Both Morris and Ginn Foy agree that participating in Tri for a Cure is not only a personal physical challenge, but also an inspiration. Both women remarked how fantastic it was to see first-time racers and survivors participating in the triathlon.
After a year off from participating in Tri for a Cure – she was eight months pregnant last year – Ginn Foy is training to join the race again. Ginn Foy feels a bit like she’s starting over with her athletic training, but that won’t stop her from standing on the shoreline Sunday, July 21, cheering everyone on and tackling her fourth Tri for a Cure.
“I’ll come back and do it every time they let me,” said Ginn Foy.
Meaghan Morris, 26, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, poses with her grandmother, Ann McDonough, 75, during the 2011 Tri for a Cure. Morris will return to Maine for the 2013 race.Jennifer Ginn Foy is traveling from Golden, Colo., to again race with her aunt, Jean Ginn Marvin.